Class Notes: August 2010

Previous months: June 2010 | July 2010 | August 2010

These are the class notes for September 2010 Tango classes in Berkhamsted.

5th September: Pulses, weight changes and ochos cortado

Beginner class: weight changes and pulses

Revision: both leaders and followers should only ever stand with weight on a single foot - the other foot ("free leg") should simply be resting on the floor. The only time your weight should be distributed across both feet is when you're transferring weight from one foot to the other.

We spent some time working on clearly leading and following weight changes, and differentiating between a change of weight and a step.

Key points:

  • Leaders, it's essential that you always know what foot the follower is on. The best way to ensure this is to put her on that foot to start with.
  • Followers, it's essential that you don't change your weight without it being led. Don't "mark the beat" by shifting from one foot to the other, for example. If your weight is on one foot, keep it there.

We then worked on leading / following sideways "pulse"-type motions. Leaders, keeping the feet stable, led the followers to take sideways motions with their free legs; to either side.

This is a nice way to "stand in place" during social dancing, marking time to the music.

Key points:

  • Followers, as soon as you feel the lead, move your free leg. Don't fight it, let the leg move freely.
  • Leaders, lead by moving your chest - not by moving the arms, or "shoulder shrugging".

Improver class: Ocho Cortado

Literally, a "Cut ocho".

We started off with the "cut" part of the movement - a chopped / pulsed sidestep, followed by a lead to a cross. Once we'd got the hang of that one, we moved onto a full practice sequence.

This sequence goes as follows (from the leader's point-of-view):

  1. Sidestep left (larger sidestep for leader, as for leading a cross)
  2. Forward step on right
  3. (Double-time) forward rockstep on left
  4. Backstep on left
  5. Turn (open out) to right
  6. (Double-time) lead follower into a side rockstep / pulse sidestep
  7. Lead follower back from rockstep into a cross, transferring weight to the right foot and pivoting to your left as you do so.

Key points

  • When leading the follower into the cross, give her space to cross by moving backwards.
  • Both rocksteps / pulsesteps are double-time, and are not full steps - so don't transfer the whole weight
  • Followers need to keep their shoulders (chest) facing the leader during the cross step.
  • This is a nice way of doing a quarter-turn anti-clockwise - for example, in corners.
  • This is useful in close embrace, and in situations where there's not much space.

12th September: Walking and Sacadas

Beginner class: Walking and musicality

We spent some time revising walking, pausing, and decorating.

Key points:

  • Leaders, take your time - if you pause, you have more time to move, you look better and your partner has time to play
  • Followers, when there's a pause, you can interpret or decorate to the music - but don't get distracted from the lead
  • Pausing / restarting is the leader's decision; decorations are at the follower's discretion

Improver class: Sacadas

We worked on a sacada from a crossed walking position.

  1. Man steps left, woman steps right
  2. Man changes weight onto right foot - woman does not change weight
  3. Man steps forward onto left, woman steps back onto left (walking in crossed)
  4. Man steps forward onto right, woman steps back onto right:
    • Man must walk "into the body" of the woman, after she transfers her weight back onto her right leg, but before she collects with her left leg.
    • Man's right leg displaces ("sacada"s) her left leg back.
    • To achieve this displacement, there needs to be thigh-to-thigh contact.
  5. Woman's leg displaced - either back or around, depending on whether rotation is supplied.
  6. Man continues to walk forward in crossed.

Key points:

  • Mind the woman's toes!
  • Contact at the thigh - if the thigh is in the right place, the foot placement will sort itself out

Some more information about sacadas here.

19th September: Workshop

See the Workshop notes for details about this session.

26th September: Footwork

We spent some time working on men's walking technique - ensuring that we roll through the length of the foot as we step forward, so that we distribute the impact of the step more evenly, and so giving a smoother and more continuous lead.

Beginner class: in giros enrosques

We then worked on "Enrosques" - good technique for the leader when leading a giro.

The "enrosque" is simply a spiral. You turn on one foot and leave the other foot in place, allowing you to twist one leg around, then untwist it to allow effect.

A good trick is to have feet placement "twisted" in advance of a giro. So, for example, we did anti-clockwise giros with the right leg starting placed over the left. Alternatively, you can hook your leg behind you, then twist in the appropriate direction.

Here is Osvaldo Zotto and Mora Godoy's enrosque:

Key points:

  • This avoids "shuffling your feet around"
  • It makes the movement smoother and easier to follow

Improver class: mirrorred giros

We then introduced a new concept, of "shared axis", using ochos and giros as examples of this movement.

Up until now, we've mostly led these movements without moving much ourselves - the leader has usually been "the axis" around which the follower steps / rotates.

But now, we introduced a shared axis - a central point around which both partners rotated / walked.

Initially, both leaders and followers did the "walk around the weight" exercise for giros; in both directions:
Forward -> pivot (180 degrees) -> Side -> pivot (180 degrees) -> Back -> Side -> Forward -> etc.

We then came together, and both did the same thing - both stepping forward, both stepping side, and so on.

We then worked on this movement, just using ochos - so, stepping in one direction whilst leading our partner in the opposite direction.

Key points:

  • The benefit of both partners moving it that it introduces a new dimension to the dance - the dance looks more dynamic, and us leaders can get used to both moving and leading at the same time. Of course, it's more difficult, but nothing worthwhile is easy :)
  • Leaders - just because we're moving, don't forget to keep leading your partner. A clear lead is always your most important priority.